Thursday, June 22, 2006

Female "circumcision" kills babies

The practice of cutting away the clitoris and labia and sewing a woman shut is a cultural act, not a religious one. This mutilation, misleadingly called "female circumcision," causes pain, suffering, and death for women. As a woman's problem, it has been largely disregarded as a health issue. However, perhaps the "right to life" movement will take it up as a cause now. After a large study of more than 28,000 women, the World Health Organization has published figures showing that the mutilation complicates childbirth and increases infant mortality by up to 55%.

Here are selected quotes from a CBC article:
It's estimated more than 100 million women and girls have had the procedure, also called female genital mutilation....

It is usually performed on girls under the age of 10 by a traditional practitioner with crude instruments and without anesthetic, the agency said. It usually involves removal of the clitoris or other external genitalia for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.

Researchers from the UN health agency studied data from some 28,000 women giving birth between November 2001 and March 2003 in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. Three-quarters of the women studied had some degree of genital mutilation.

Up to 20 out of every 1,000 babies born in Africa die as a direct result of their mothers' circumcision, the agency said.

Scars forming around the wound could cause an obstruction, prolonging labour, "which increases the risk of caesarean section, heavy bleeding, distress in the infant and stillbirth."

Female genital mutilation "is estimated to lead to an extra one or two perinatal deaths per 100 deliveries," the study said.
Photo not available, and you should be thankful, but you can go here for a map.

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